A cold, windy and rainy morning didn’t prevent more than 50 artists from flocking to the T.H. Stone Memorial Picnic Pavilion in St. Joseph Peninsula State Park for the annual Plein Air Quickdraw event last Saturday.
To avoid the weather and preserve the life of their paintings, the invited artists and registered participants huddled under shelter wherever they could and painted whatever beauty Cape San Blas could provide on an otherwise dreary day.
Each artist brought a blank canvas of desired size which was then stamped by the Forgotten Coast Cultural Coalition. When the clock struck 10 a.m. ET the artists were given two hours to complete a painting, frame it, and hang it for display.
A title and price were also required to be filed.
“Regardless of the weather, all spirits are up,” said Vince Bishop, board member for the FCCC.
In addition to running the official Plein Air Paint-Out website, Bishop was in charge of checking everyone in. He happily reported that over 40 amateur artists had registered to participate in the event.
The man tasked with the difficult job of choosing the winners was Dr. Ashley White from Ocala.
He was chosen for the judge’s role due to his background in art history and archaeology.
A member of the advisory board for the Appleton Museum of Art, White said that his criteria for judging were based on “the capturing of a moment.”
He was looking at the color of the sky, realism of the painting and the emotion and feelings the pieces produced.
“We’re fortunate to have so many people with so much talent in one place,” said White.
Last year’s Quickdraw judge and fellow Appleton advisory member Chuck Koch was also on hand for the event. He visits Plein Air events all over the country searching out new talent and taking note of the different artistic events that are offered.
“Art is the only form of communication that needs no translation,” Koch said,
After two hours of fierce and focused painting, the final whistle sounded and the artists scrambled to put their art on display in the center pavilion for judging.
As White spent time considering each piece of artwork, which when displayed together, created a colorful collection of memories from the day, the painters took time to network, laugh and appreciate the work of their peers.
When the judge’s results were in a hush fell over the crowd.
White announced that honorable mention awards and a prize of $50 each would be given to Mary Erickson for her work, “Sand Blast,” Haidee-Jo Summers for her piece “View from the Restroom,” and Ken DeWaar for his painting, “Sir Charles.”
The Best Emerging Artist award and a prize of $75 were given to David Boyd, Jr. for his painting, “The Calm.”
Finally, Judge’s Choice and a $100 prize were awarded to Morgan Samuel Price for her piece, “Artists and Easels.”
“It was such a wonderful day,” said Price, who has participated in every Forgotten Coast Plein Air event since its original inception.
As Koch took the microphone to speak to the creative crowd, he offered up some words of wisdom.
“You need art in your diet,” he said. “When this is lost, we’re starting to starve.”
All artists and spectators at the 2013 Quickdraw event were well-fed.